A life-saving liver transplant may be indicated for a person at high risk of dying from:

  • End-stage liver disease/cirrhosis
  • Acute (sudden) liver failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Metabolic (synthetic) liver diseases

Cirrhosis is the development of scarring (fibrosis) of the liver due to chronic injury (hepatitis). Common causes of cirrhosis include fatty liver disease, long-standing alcohol use, autoimmune disease, or untreated infection with Hepatitis B or C virus. Although early cirrhosis can frequently be reversed by stopping or treating the cause of the liver injury, advanced cirrhosis is considered irreversible and life-threatening. 

Signs of advanced cirrhosis include:

  • Hepatic Encephalopathy: difficulty concentrating, confusion, disorientation, drowsiness or stupor

  • Jaundice: yellowing of the eyes or skin due to a build of bilirubin in the blood

  • Sarcopenia:  muscle loss and wasting

  • Ascites: build-up of fluid and swelling in the abdomen (belly)

  • Edema: build-up of fluid and swelling in the legs or buttocks

  • Variceal Hemorrhage: bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or rectum due to the development of abnormal veins bypassing the liver

  • Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis: infection in the abdomen (belly) due to the build-up of fluid

  • Coagulopathy: easy bruising due to low presence of clotting factors and platelets in the blood

Acute liver failure is a sudden injury affecting a large amount of an otherwise healthy liver causing life-threatening liver dysfunction.  Known causes of acute liver failure include acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdosing, viral infections, and autoimmune disease but many times a cause is never identified.  Patients with acute live failure were often healthy with the sudden development of encephalopathy, jaundice, and coagulopathy.

Liver cancer, also known as hepatic cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the liver. It is a serious condition that can be caused by various factors, such as hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis, or exposure to certain chemicals. Symptoms of liver cancer may include abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice, and fatigue. Diagnosis is typically made through imaging tests and a biopsy, and treatment options depend on the stage and severity of the cancer.

Liver transplantation is a potential treatment option for some patients with liver cancer. It involves replacing a diseased liver with a healthy liver from a donor. In cases where the cancer has not spread beyond the liver and the patient is otherwise healthy, liver transplantation can be curative.

Metabolic synthetic liver disease, also known as metabolic liver disease, is a group of genetic disorders that affect the liver's ability to process certain substances, such as fats, carbohydrates, or amino acids. This can lead to a buildup of toxins in the liver, which can cause liver damage and other health complications. Symptoms of metabolic liver disease may include jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to thrive. Treatment options may include dietary modifications, medications, and, in some cases, liver transplantation.

Metabolic synthetic liver disease is caused by genetic mutations that affect the liver's ability to produce certain enzymes or proteins needed for metabolic processes. The specific genetic mutations and their effects on the liver can vary depending on the type of metabolic liver disease. Some types of metabolic liver disease are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning that a person must inherit two copies of the mutated gene, one from each parent, to develop the disease. Other types may be inherited in an X-linked or mitochondrial manner, or may be caused by spontaneous mutations. Some examples of metabolic liver diseases include phenylketonuria (PKU), galactosemia, and Wilson's disease.